Tip: Choosing a Power Drill

Power drills are a necessary tool for anyone who attempts even basic DIY. Drills are used for boring holes in a variety of materials including wood, metal, plastic and concrete. A drill is also necessary for making holes in brick or masonry when fitting shelfs, cupboards, brackets and other items to walls. A cordless drill can be used for driving screws in addition to being used conventionally for drilling holes.
Choosing a drill - What are the options?
There are two main choices when choosing a drill - You can buy a cordless battery powered drill or alternatively a corded drill powered by mains electricity.
Cordless Drill
  • No trailing power cord to fall over giving freedom to work anywhere without a power source
  • Can be used for driving screws
  • No danger of electrocution
  • Chuck slips if drill bit gets stuck, so no danger of burning out motor
  • Not as powerful as a corded drill
  • Expensive
  • If you don't have a spare charged battery, you have to wait for battery to charge
Corded drill
  • Inexpensive
  • Lots of power so can be used for drilling large and/or deep holes
  • Cord needs to be plugged into a power source so this can be inconvenient when working in awkward spaces or on a height.
  • The cord can also be cut or be tripped over.
Things to check out when buying a drill:
Chuck type - On a cordless drill this is nearly always hand tightened. Corded drills come with either hand tightening (keyless) or keyed chucks. The drill bit can be tightened better in a keyed chuck.
Chuck size - Usually 10 to 13 mm on a cordless drill. Most corded drills have a 13mm chuck but models with 16mm chucks are available.
Power - Corded drills have a rating between 500 and 800 watt. Higher powered SDS drills are available. These are used with SDS bits for drilling hols through masonry. A 650 watt drill is adequate for domestic purposes.
Voltage - Cordless drills have voltage ratings between 10.8 and 36 volts. Higher voltage gives more torque which is measured in Nm or footpounds. An 18 volt drill has plenty of power but you can choose a 12 volt model if you prefer a lighter tool. 24 and 36 volt models are large and bulky. A drill with 60 NM (44 foot pounds) of torque is adequate for most medium to serious DIY chores, but 40 to 45 NM is ok for light drilling and screw driving.
For more info, checkout my guide to buying power tools here:
t choosing a power drill, tools
t choosing a power drill, tools
t choosing a power drill, tools
  11 answers
  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Jan 14, 2017
    This is SO helpful! Thank you!
  • Jud16867689 Jud16867689 on Jan 14, 2017
    This is helpful, but like some department stores and CONTEST people , there are TOO many emails and I unfortunately DO NOT have enough time to read everything.
  • Haysha S. Haysha S. on Jan 15, 2017
    Super helpfull, Thanks!
  • Eugene Brennan Eugene Brennan on Jan 15, 2017
    Thank you Haysha!
  • Hillela G. Hillela G. on Jan 15, 2017
    This is incredibly helpful, I'm really excited to have this info. Thank you!!!!!
    • Eugene Brennan Eugene Brennan on Jan 15, 2017
      Thanks Hillela! Checkout my guide on DenGarden also, which has more info about other power tools (absolutely basic for the complete beginner  )
  • Nadine Nadine on Jan 15, 2017
    Really appreciate this info. Many times I want to do a project but I am not sure of the best tools to get. Thank you Eugene!
  • Joseph Glackin Joseph Glackin on Jan 18, 2017
    I would suggest a cordless 18v or higher 3/8 drill ($50 or less) and a cordless "screwdriver" ($25) for simple projects. Then get a good, corded, 3/8 or 1/2" drill for H/D projects (like cutting through the foundation to get that new lawn hose faucet).
  • Eugene Brennan Eugene Brennan on Jan 19, 2017
    I agree with getting a corded drill for concrete breaking. Heavy duty 24 or 36 volt cordless hammers are available and an 18 volt combi cordless drill can drill through concrete (slowly), but you can't beat the power and speed of a corded tool, especially for drilling large holes. An SDS drill like this one has three functions, drill, drill and hammer (for drilling concrete) and hammer only for breaking concrete. The advantages of SDS drill bits are that they can be quickliy inserted/removed and don't slip in the chuck. It's also a good idea to buy a drill with a clutch. If the bit gets stuck (e.g. in rebar), the clutch will slip. These drills are often higher powered/geared to have low speed. So torque can be so high that you won't be able to hold the drill and it can spin out of control if it doesn't have a clutch, wrenching your shoulder and potentially causing an accident.
  • Dian Dian on Jan 20, 2017
    A cordless drill would be the best investment for a DIYer - unless you're going to build a house. I have a full 7 pce Ryobi drill & saw set, w/2 batteries, the newest
    kind that hold a charge for hours. The charger only takes half an hour. Hardly a day goes by when I don't use at least part of the set. By the way, I am retired, do all the fix-it work, plus I do lots of fun stuff with my Ryobi tools. And I am a proud & capable lady.
  • Eugene Brennan Eugene Brennan on Jan 20, 2017
    Good for you In the US most of your homes are of timber construction. Here, houses are generally brick/block/solid concrete. So mains powered drills are much quicker for drilling walls to take wallplugs when stuff needs to be attached onto them.
  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on Jan 20, 2017
    We have both electric and battery powered drills and both have their uses.